Ask The Painter: What can I apply to my garage floor?

June 23, 2010

One Product Stands Above All Others

We are occasionally asked by homeowners what can be done to improve the look of their garage floors. While there are many products that can be used on concrete, very few of them are suitable for garages, because of the simple fact that garage floors are meant to be driven on. There is one type of product type that can withstand this use, and it looks great, too. That product is epoxy.

Garage floors require a durable coating that will stand up to the wear and tear of a car being driven — and parked — on it. Not only must a garage floor coating stand up to the stresses imposed on them from steering wheels being turned at low speed (the tires “grind” the surface), but they must also stand up to “hot tire pick up”. Hot tire pick up occurs when tires that have been heated up due to friction with the road while driving (especially during the hot summer months) and are then brought to a prolonged stop when the vehicle is parked in the garage. The heat from the tires can soften many floor coatings, and as it cools, the coating can stick to the tire. When the vehicle is then again put into motion, the rolling tire can actually peel, or “pick up” the floor coating.

Epoxy coatings are more resistant to hot tire pick up than virtually all other coatings. In addition, they are chemical resistant, and this is desirable not only from the standpoint of fluid leakage from vehicles, but also so that chemicals in the rubber of new tires don’t react with the floor.

Epoxy coatings come in a variety of colors, and there are also additives that may be either mixed in or applied to the coating before it dries. One such coating makes the floor more slip resistant. It is essentially sand that is added to the epoxy before or during application. Another popular additive consists of multi-colored decorative “flakes” that are broadcast over the surface after the epoxy is applied, but before it has hardened.

Applying an epoxy coating to a garage floor is typically a three day procedure. Add some time for that for the garage floor to further harden before vehicles are driven on it, and it is best to plan that the garage be out of service for about a week, although the surface may be walked on 24 hours after the epoxy has dried.

The reason the application process takes three days is because one day is used for preparation and drying, and two coats are generally required with drying time in between. Preparation consists of degreasing, power washing, and (depending on the specific epoxy to be used) acid etching. Acid etching opens up the pores in the concrete for better adhesion of the epoxy. There is one brand of epoxy that does not require acid etching, although the choice of colors is much more limited. Two coats of epoxy are generally required to “hide” any stains or discolorations that remain after cleaning the surface.

Epoxy coated garage floors beautify and protect the concrete, and they are easier to keep clean than “raw” concrete. The cost to epoxy goat a garage floor in terms of time and materials cost is a deterrent to some people, while others consider the value it adds from the perspective of personal enjoyment (car buffs especially) as well as re-sale value.
Copyright 2010 Jeff Stec

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